GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 8, 2013

Mass. job rate holds despite jobs gain

By Colleen Quinn
State House News Service

---- — BOSTON — While there was no improvement in the joblessness rate in January, Massachusetts added 32,100 more jobs than previously estimated for 2011 and 2012, according to revised figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At 6.7 percent, the January unemployment rate did not budge from the December 2012 rate.

Massachusetts employers added an estimated 16,100 jobs in January, according to figures released by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. According to the revisions, employers in Massachusetts added 92,800 jobs over the course of 2011 and 2012.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics annually compiles year-end revisions of previous job growth and unemployment estimates. The revisions are based on actual data collected from employers through September 2012, with numbers for the last quarter still based on projections, according to state labor and workforce development officials.

Job growth revisions by the federal government last year caused a stir when the numbers showed the state added far fewer jobs than originally reported. In March 2012, the BLS issued revised jobs numbers that showed Massachusetts added nearly 30,000 fewer jobs in 2011 than previously reported. Patrick administration officials questioned the accuracy of those numbers, while political opponents pounced.

The newest federal figures provide a complete picture for 2011, while 2012 could be adjusted again when the last quarter is finalized, according to Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne Goldstein. The numbers show a steady recovery with more continuous job growth, she said, adding the Patrick administration is “very pleased.”

“This is real people having real jobs, which is critical,” she said.

Goldstein said the unchanged unemployment rate indicates the economy still has challenges, but pointed out it is below the 7.9 percent national rate.

“The rate is 6.7, and it is something we watch, and are working on, but we don’t think it is a negative reflection of the state of the Massachusetts economy,” she said.

The Federal Reserve Bank reported Wednesday that economic activity in its Boston-based first district was expanding “slowly,” according to its business contacts, with most manufacturers “upbeat” about 2013, staffing service firms citing an pick-up in business and several software and it services firms reporting results have been below expectations.

The areas that added jobs in 2011 and 2012 tend to drive the state’s economy, like health care and education, Goldstein said.

According to the revised figures, professional, scientific and business services added 16,200 jobs in 2011 and 9,300 in 2012, differing from original estimates of 9,900 and 22,800. Education and health services gained 13,800 jobs in 2011 followed by 13,900 in 2012. The original estimates showed 300 jobs in 2011 and 7,300 in 2012.

Leisure and hospitality also created more jobs than originally predicted, with 7,200 jobs in 2011 and 10,700 in 2012. Original estimates reported the sector lost 2,200 jobs in 2011 and gained 6,300 in 2012.

January labor estimates show more than 3.25 million residents were employed while 232,900 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,483,900.

According to January data released Thursday:

Jobs in the professional, scientific, and business services sector saw the biggest growth, adding 5,100 positions in January. Over the year, the sector added 15,100 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality was the next biggest job creator with 3,300 positions added over the month. Over the year more 10,700 jobs were added.

Trade, transportation, and utilities added 2,400 jobs over the month with gains across all components. Over the year, the sector has added 6,500 jobs, with retail adding 3,600, transportation 2,600 and wholesale trade added 300.

Construction jobs also picked up, gaining 2,400 jobs over the month to add to the 3,700 jobs created over the year.

Other services added 1,300 jobs, and 2,700 over the year.

Information added 700 jobs. Over the year 2,300 jobs were created in information.

Financial activities added only 100 jobs over the month. Over the year 500 jobs were added. Some parts of the sector saw job losses for the year, with finance and insurance losing 300 positions. Real estate, rental and leasing added 800 jobs.

Education and health services gained 1,900 jobs over the month and 14,300 over the year.

Manufacturing gained 2,100 jobs over the month, but lost 1,500 jobs over the year.

Mining and lodging saw no job growth and lost 200 jobs over the year.